Count Your Blessings with Gratitude Journaling

I love November when people's attention turns from Halloween's creepy decorations and movies and turns towards giving thanks and counting one's blessings. For me, it makes entering the Christmas season all the more wonderful. I encourage you to join me in starting and keeping a gratitude journal. I'll be using this Gratitude Journal, I made, that's available for instant download on Etsy, at my shop Joyful Life Printables. The simple layout makes it easy to journal in just minutes at a time, but what a treasure trove of God's goodness and faithfulness to look back upon as your completed journal pages build up from each day you journal. Gratitude journaling is great to do by yourself, with your family, or with friends.

 


Today I'm very thankful for my daughters antibiotics to help get her on the mend from her pneumonia. There's so much to be thankful for!

Question for you: How great would it feel to have a written collection of blessings, answered prayers, and other forms of God's goodness to encourage your heart? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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Celebrate Fall with Fall Printables! (i.e. Fall Decor Scriptures, Gratitude Journal) Check them out at my Etsy Shop: Joyful Life Printables
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Copyright © 2018 Brooke Espinoza. 

10 Reasons Why I Love To Memorize Scripture




This page contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you use them, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend resources that I personally love, use, and trust.

For the longest time I was content memorizing a verse here or there, with no real goals and no real drive to hide more of His Word in my heart. I guess I figured if I wanted to know what a verse said, I could just look it up in my Bible or on my phone. But over the last few years the Lord has lit a fire in me to move past a familiarity of His Word to actually knowing what the Bible says by memorizing it.

Considering all the practice it takes to successfully memorize a passage, I asked myself what drives me to memorize Scripture? Why do I have an insatiable desire to hide as much of God’s Word in my heart as I can while I'm still on this side of heaven?

Here is why I love memorizing Scripture and can’t imagine my life without it:

How I Lost 15 Pounds Naturally Without Giving Up My Favorite Foods


I have been praying that God would lead me to a natural way I could lose weight that would be a perfect fit for me. I have tried over the years to lose my unhealthy weight, but I never could stick with a program long enough to see results because it required me to tediously track and measure every food that passed my lips. Or It required I eat foods I don’t care for, and give up the foods and drinks that I enjoy most. Or it required me to commit to a grueling workout routine. None of those were doable for me. They were my deal breakers. God knowing my weaknesses and the desires of my heart led me this summer, when I least expected it to a new way of eating that met all my non-negotiables. He led me to a super simple, but brilliant way of eating that did not require me to:

  • give up my favorite foods
  • eat foods I don’t like
  • take pills or other supplements
  • do grueling workouts

These small changes I have made this summer have not felt burdensome or depriving at all—but rather freeing! This truly has been an answer to prayer. So far I’ve lost 15 pounds and am still losing!

Here’s What Worked For Me (and still does!)

Making the Most of 2018!

Happy New Year! I wanted to point you to some resources I’m enjoying and incorporating into my 2018 daily routine to help me make the most of my time this year.


 My top priority this year is to give top priority to God’s Word. To be equipped with the Word of God before I go about my day, I’m following Blue Letter Bible’s Chronological Reading Plan. (But they have many different plans to choose from if you'd rather another plan)

Blue Letter Bible’s Chronological Bible Reading Plan

I’ve read through the Bible in years past going straight from Genesis to Revelation. However this year I thought it would be neat to read through the Bible in the order the events happened. Here’s what the Blue Letter Bible says about this reading plan, 

Making Positive Changes Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

If you are like me you can easily think of positive changes you’d love to see in your life. The only trouble is when we think of all that we’d have to do to make those changes, it can easily overwhelm us before we’ve even taken the first step. 

 

 Consider some things we may dream to become a reality:      

* Losing several pounds and getting in the best shape of our life  

* Writing a book and helping others with our message    

* Decluttering our house and making our home a haven      

* Paying off debt, or building up our savings, and feeling an enormous weight off our shoulders      

Whatever the Lord is impressing on our heart, whether it is to lose unhealthy weight or to simplify our home, with God’s help anything is possible. Still we can easily feel like we have such a long journey ahead of us and don’t even know where to begin. While we may, indeed, have a journey ahead of us, it doesn’t have to be a pain-staking one. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Here’s how to make those first few steps much easier until you start to build momentum in your new positive habits.   

The easiest way to start making positive changes that lead to big results is to make what you want to do as easy as possible.

 So what can you do to make it as easy as possible for you to make the positive changes you want to see come about in your life? Let’s look at a few examples to get your creative juices flowing on how you can make positive changes, in whatever season of life you’re in, that lead to big results.      

Want to lose some weight and get in the best shape of your life?   

Make it easy for you to get going in the right direction. For me, I didn’t want to have to give up any of my favorite foods, or have to do hours of intense exercise. I know if I feel like I’m deprived of my favorite foods and drinks, or deprived of eating when I’m truly hungry, I won’t be able to keep it up long enough to see results. Nor could I keep up session after session of doing exercises I don’t even like. Nor did I want to spend the rest of my life counting calories or journaling every bite, lick and taste.  



This book has been a major game changer for me!

So to make it easier for me to get going in the right direction, I began following the brilliant instruction from Josie Spinardi’s book that satisfied ALL my non-negotiables. Because of that, it was much easier for me to make the small changes that has enabled me to begin losing weight and keep the ball rolling.  Since then I have dropped a dress size and continue to lose weight consistently. The amazing thing about this is that for the first time in my adult life I am able to consistently lose weight without cutting out my favorite foods, counting calories, tracking every meal, etc. which is fabulously freeing!    

Want your house to be clean and presentable at a moments notice?

For tasks you may not enjoy, like cleaning the house, but you know it needs to be done, make it easy to keep your house clean and ready for company. Here’s how I’ve made it easy for me to keep my house clean and presentable Since my kitchen and bathrooms take the longest to clean compared to our living room and bedrooms, to make it easy to keep my kitchen and bathrooms guest beautiful throughout the week, I reorganized my cabinet under each sink to make room for all the cleaning supplies I’d need to keep that bathroom clean. Then when I need to use the bathroom to brush my teeth, do my hair, put on makeup, etc. if I see spots on the mirror or toothpaste in the sink, I can open up my cabinet, grab what I need and clean the areas that could use some freshening. Additionally, I like to keep small trash bags under the sink, so when I see the bathroom trash is getting full, I can pull out the entire bag of trash and have a fresh bag to replace it afterwards. Lastly, I like to keep a gallon jug of hand soap under the cabinet, so when I notice our hand soap pump is running low, I can refill it right then and there while I’m thinking about it. 



It’s nice being able to freshen up each room throughout the week, as it needs it, so the messes don’t pile up all week. The key is whatever changes you want to see in your life, make it easy for you to do them—and easy to sustain. It helps too if you can make a chore more enjoyable, too! One thing I like to do to make household chores or running errands more fun is to listen to wonderful teachings on the KWAVE app. At times I also enjoy listening to encouraging podcasts, inspiring audiobooks or upbeat Christian music.  

Want you and your family to eat more vegetables?

If you want you and your family to eat more vegetables, make it easy to do so by buying or making a veggie platter you can put on the counter as you prepare lunch or dinner. You and your family will be more inclined to snack on veggies simply because it’s easily accessible.    



 I’ve found my family won’t go rooting through the refrigerator looking for a snack if I have a veggie platter out and ready for snacking. Instead when they come in the kitchen looking for a snack, and see a veggie platter and yummy dip right there, they’ll eat veggies they weren’t even planning on eating simply because it’s there. I’ve also seen the same response when I make a big salad and have it out with our main entrée. My family inevitably will pile salad on their plate, simply because it’s easily accessible and ready to eat.  

Make It Easier to Break Bad Habits, Too!    

You can apply this same concept to things to habits you’d love to break, by making is more difficult to do the behavior you don’t want to do or just not do as much. Here’s a couple of ideas:    

Cutting Back on Splurges    

Maybe you habitually make purchases for coffee or fast food you enjoy, but you’d much rather save that money for more important things. The trick, make purchasing those treats difficult to do. One way would be to take a different route, so you do not drive by that place you always see and stop at.   



Or maybe you make it difficult for yourself by leaving your preferred method of payment at home or otherwise not easily accessible. The goal is to make doing the behavior you want to break difficult to do, so the temptation to do it diminishes in accordance to the difficulty. If I leave my cash at home and see my favorite coffee shop, while I will wish I could have a coffee. I am not tempted in the least to go there because I know I purposefully left my cash at home, so there is no way for me to splurge on a coffee.    

Curbing Time on Social Media   

When I found myself jumping on Facebook on my phone, much too often, I made accessing my app more difficult. 



Rather than having the app on my home page, I moved it several pages away and in a folder. I still use the app on my phone, but now way less than I used to because I took away the easy factor.

Ask God to give you Directio   

So what changes do you want to see in your life? How can you make accomplishing those changes easier for you or more difficult depending on your goal? 



Pray and ask the Lord how He would have you go about making such changes. He will be faithful to impress upon you the way you should go.     

Question for you: What things have you done to make it easier for you to form good habits or routines in your life?      

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

My Plan for Memorizing the Book of Jonah

Last time I invited you to join me in memorizing Jonah. If you haven’t registered already it’s not too late. Today I’m sharing how I plan to memorize the book of Jonah. Feel free to use it to help you memorize Jonah, too. Or if you are a home school mom, like me, you could use this plan to lead your kids to memorize Jonah with you over the school year. I love reciting my verses to my daughter and listening to her recite her Awana verses to me. Hopefully as she sees me learn and recite my verses each week, she will see that memorizing Scripture is not just a “kid thing” but something that is well worth continuing all throughout life.
 
How I Know Memorizing the Book of Jonah is Possible!
If you don’t have a good memory, don’t let that keep you from memorizing Scripture. If you truly have a desire to memorize Jonah, or any portion of Scripture, God will surely honor that desire, and fully equip you with the ability to not only memorize all of it, but to lock it in your brain for the rest of your life. Trust Him. You can do this! If you ever doubt your ability to memorize Scripture, or finish a memory challenge let these two verses encourage you and help you take those thoughts captive and bring them into obedience to Christ:
1. I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13

2. With man this is impossible, but not with God. With God ALL THINGS are possible! (Matthew 19:26)





Both these verses prove that you can memorize Scripture, even all of Jonah, regardless of your memory. For more great reasons to join us in memorizing Scripture, check out 10 reasons why I memorize ScriptureJohn Piper’s 6 Great Reason’s to Memorize Scripture, as well as the benefits of memorizing passages over individual verses. So if you desire to join me in memorizing Jonah, I encourage you to head over to Scripture Memory Fellowship and register for the Jonah memory challenge. After that grab your favorite Bible translation to memorize from and join in the fun!  
What Works For Me 
The easiest way I’ve found to memorize a chunk of Scripture is by reading it aloud, all the way through, each day. Reading aloud the book of Jonah with expression each morning quickly equips me to:
  • Grasp the book of Jonah as a whole. Like when flying over a city and seeing the big picture, when I read the book of Jonah out loud in one sitting, I am able to easily see the big picture.
  • Grow increasingly familiar with not only the Jonah verses I’ve memorized so far, but also the verses in Jonah I’ll be memorizing in the weeks to come.
  • Recognize repeated words and phrases throughout each chapter. 

Additionally, since I memorize from the NKJV, I daily use the Word of Promise app on my phone to listen to Jonah as I read along (for both auditory and visual learning). However, when I’m busily cleaning my house, cooking, cleaning, ironing, doing yard work outside, or running errands in the car I can listen through Jonah.  

How Much I Plan to Practice
When I was in high school and I had a test coming up, I would study until I got it right. Now looking back, I can see I was doing the bare minimum in preparing for a test. Because God’s Word is life-changing I do not study my memory verses until I finally get it right. Instead, I practice until I can’t get it wrong. After much practice, I experience the joy of going from being familiar with the book of Jonah to actually knowing exactly what says.
How I Plan to memorize the book of Jonah
Below you'll find my schedule for memorizing Jonah as well as the daily practices I'll be doing each week to hide Jonah in my heart. If the Lord is leading you to memorize Jonah, feel free to print the PDF version of my schedule for memorizing Jonah.

Week
Dates
Verses to Memorize
Daily Memorization Plan
1
August 26-September 2
Jonah 1:1-3
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah out with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-3 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
2
September 3-9
Jonah 1:4-5
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-5 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
3
September10-16
Jonah 1:6-8
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-8 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
4
September 17-23
Jonah 1:9-11
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-11 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
5
September 24-30
Jonah 1:12-14
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-14 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)

6
October 1-7
Jonah 1:15-17
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-17 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)




7
October 8-14
Jonah 2:1-3
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-2:3 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
8
October 15-21
Jonah 2:4-6
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-2:6 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
9
October 22-28
Jonah 2:7-10
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-2:10 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
10
October 29-November 4
Jonah 3:1-4
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-3:4 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
11
November 5-11
Jonah 3:5-7
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-3:7 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)




12
November 12-18
Jonah 3:8-10
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-3:10 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
13
November 19-25
Jonah 4:1-4
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-4:4 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
14
November 26-December 2
Jonah 4:5-6
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-4:6 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
15
December 3-9
Jonah 4:7-9
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-4:9 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
16
December 10-16
Jonah 4:10-11
1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-4:11(at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)




17
December 17-23

1. Read aloud all four short chapters of Jonah with expression (Just takes minutes)
2. Use SMF app to play Hide and Reveal to quiz your accuracy on reciting this weeks verses.
3. Recite Jonah 1:1-4:11 (at least 5 times)
4. Listen through the book of Jonah on phone using The Word of Promise App (NKJV)
4. At the end of the week begin review program. Recite Jonah 1:1-4:11 once through every day for the next 100 days (during downtime—i.e. In the car, in the shower, while folding laundry, etc.)

Questions for you: What do you find most helpful when memorizing Scripture? What would you add to my plan? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”